What is sexualized violence?

At UVic, we define sexualized violence broadly to include a wide range of behaviours that are unacceptable. This may be different from other institutions, regions, or countries, so we encourage everyone to read and understand UVic’s definition.

Sexualized violence is any non-consensual, unwanted, actual, attempted, or threatened act or behavior that is carried out through sexual means or by targeting a person’s sex, sexual identity, or gender identity or expression. This act or behaviour may or may not involve physical contact.

What forms it takes

Sexualized violence can take place through any form of communication.  This means that sexualized violence can occur in-person or online, in writing or verbally. Sexualized violence includes, but is not limited to:

  • salacious comments
  • sexual assault
  • sexual exploitation
  • sexual harassment
  • stalking
  • indecent exposure
  • voyeurism
  • distribution of sexually explicit images or videos without the consent of the person in the images or videos

In addition, sexualized violence may also include unwanted sexualized attention received in person or via text, phone, email as well as chat, social media and dating apps, among other mediums. This kind of unwanted sexualized attention may include behaviour that includes:

  • stealthing
  • catcalls
  • sexist remarks or jokes
  • transphobic remarks
  • leering
  • persistent and/or aggressive come-ons
  • sending unwanted and unsolicited images or videos

Attitudes and beliefs

Sexualized violence is often rooted in harmful attitudes and beliefs that are sexist, racist, homophobic, ageist, abelist, transantagonistic, and/or xenophobic. Preventing sexualized violence requires that we address multiple intersecting forms of discrimination and oppression at the same time. We can begin to address sexualized violence, in all forms, by having conversations with one another that are respectful and grounded in a deep understanding of consent. For more information on how we can collectively address harmful attitudes and beliefs, visit Equity and Human Rights education and initiatives.